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Policy brief | 8 January 2013

The Baltic States, NATO and Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe

Image of Shatabhisha Shetty

Shatabhisha Shetty |Director of the APLN and Co-Founder and Former Deputy Director of the ELN

NATO Nuclear Arms Control Nuclear Disarmament Risk Reduction Russia Russia-West Relations Euro-Atlantic Security

This paper by Shatabhisha Shetty, Ian Kearns, and Simon Lunn, is a product of a RUSI-ELN partnership programme to address particular national positions in the non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) debate within NATO.

A debate within NATO about the future of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in Europe has been revived over the past few years after a lengthy period in which the issue lay dormant.

Renewed arguments in favour of removing the weapons have gained traction in some NATO capitals, partly in response to President Obama’s Prague speech and calls to reduce the worlds growing nuclear dangers. However, opposition to any change has also been strong.

This paper, the second in a series examining the position of a key group of NATO member states in the debate, focuses on the Baltic States. Due to their geostrategic location, the perspectives of the three Baltic States have a particular resonance. For them, NATO’s primary purpose is collective defence through the Article V commitment and the maintenance of the necessary capabilities for deterrence and defence. Their priority and principal focus, therefore, is on ensuring the credibility of these capabilities, the transatlantic link and the US nuclear deterrent. The Baltic States are wary of any proposals for change which could, in their view, weaken the credibility of the commitment to collective defence, and are sceptical about those proposals that involve Russian reciprocity. Changes are not excluded, but can be considered only after the question ‘will we be more secure?’ is answered.


The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges of our time.